Zong has amassed a personal fortune of US$12bn

Zong has amassed a personal fortune of US$12bn

Zong Qinghou, the Chinese soft drinks tycoon famous for leading Wahaha through a long-running dispute with Danone, has been named China's richest man.

Zong, who owns 60% of the soft drinks firm, has amassed a personal fortune of US$12bn, according to the Hurun Rich List.

The 65-year-old heads Wahaha, which is expected to make profits this year of $1.5bn, the Hurun Rich List noted. Last year, Zong oversaw the settlement of a legal dispute with France-based Danone following years of court battles across the globe.

Wahaha signed a joint venture deal with Danone in 1996, but relations soured after Danone accused its partner of illegally copying products that the two firms' had agreed would only be sold within the venture.

Danone finally agreed to sell its 51% stake in the joint venture in September last year, ending all legal proceedings, in a deal that involved diplomatic efforts by both the Chinese and French governments.